In the Loop

Pay no attention to the silly snowman: Picking my way back through the YouTube debate

Posted at 11:40 AM on July 24, 2007 by Jeff Horwich (2 Comments)

If I'd thought about it, I might have turned on the YouTube Democratic Candidates debate last night on TV. But I'm glad I didn't.

One of the best things about the format, I'm finding, is my ability to browse the debate at my own pace the day after (which I've been doing this morning, on the YouTube page devoted to it.) There are some glitches on YouTube's page (misnamed candidates, incomplete videos -- hello???? YouTube???? People are kind of paying attention) but all in all it's a nifty way to consume the debate -- and a little scary.

(Global warming question, from a silly snowman. Way to represent, MN.)
It's nifty because you can skip to the questions that interest you; if an answer sucks, you can skip ahead to another; you can take in the debate -- or some of it -- without devoting hours, and at a time convenient to you. Speaking as someone who is interested in politics but not a political junkie, this feels like quite an evolution.

It's scary because the moderator is basically a pointless traffic cop; the question editors, not surprisingly, had a soft spot for showmanship (example: Minnesota native Billium the Snowman, pictured here); you can easily skip minor candidates or questions that are important but boring (health care, anyone?). Also, as I mentioned, the archivist of the debate is YouTube, which is demonstrating it is not completely up to the task.

I guess the big question is: Did this format get surprising questions into the debate? I think so. My favorites:

* If you had to choose a Republican running mate, who would it be?
* Should we give reparations for slavery?
* Would a woman president be taken seriously by the Arab world? (YouTube, GD-it, neglects to actually post Hillary's answer. Wake up over there!)
* Would you agree to be paid minimum wage during your term as president?
* What do you like and dislike about the candidate to your left? (But watch the candidates dodge it, one and all. Richardson gets in a good line, though.)

Anybody else watch it -- on TV or after the fact?

Comments (2)

I watched it on TV and am using it as a starting point on my blog, challenging my politically apathetic friends and family (and misc. blog readers) to get as informed as I am (which isn't very informed mind you - i am a stay at home mom of a baby, toddler and kindergartener AND have a night job, so i don't get to read/watch tv much) about the upcoming election. I posted the link to the youtube debate which i watched on TV and over the next 15 months or so will post other links to articles i've read, debates i've watched or plan to watch and so on. I am inviting comments and for other people to send me good stuff they've read or seen too. Besides that, I thought it was a nice change to have a different format, and it inspired me to submit (well.... i PLAN on submitting anyway) a question for the september republican version. of course, as creative as they tried to get and as personal as they tried to make it, it was still politics as usual with lots of candidates not really answering the questions but just going off about only barely related topics. that is my politician pet peeve - they hate to actually answer anything or give any specifics.

Posted by Elizabeth | July 24, 2007 9:51 PM

Thanks, Elizabeth. It did seem much more obvious in this debate format when candidates were running around the questions. Not that this made them do it any less... But I think it had something to do with the very specific nature of the kinds of questions YouTube users asked (do you believe in reparations; where to do you send your kids to school; what do you like and dislike about the person on your left; wouldn't we be better off with Kucinich). You can't convincingly dodge this stuff -- though they tried. I think it may be one of the reasons Obama came out looking tarnished from this one -- he seemed awfully evasive, whereas Hillary showed no fear and clearly answered just about everything.

Posted by Jeff Horwich | July 25, 2007 10:09 AM

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